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Does this match up to 1957?
on 4 November 2011
I've started so I'll finish. I think someone said that. Having gotten going with year 1956 - see my review of that year for general comments on the series - I then dug a bit more deeply into `57 and got the bug to go further. I have to say that `57 was nothing short of magnificent so does this one match it? Thoughts below:
- all the big names, that is, Fats, Chuck, Eddie, the Ev's, Little R, Jerry Lee (with the unexpected but excellent choice of Hank Williams` "You win again", one of the Killer's best country outings), Perkins and Larry W (with that fantastic riff in "Bony Maronie"), and Ricky, are all present and correct.
- there are quite a few of the slightly more obscure, one-off type, rockers like Eddie Fontaine's "Nothin' Shakin'", "Do you wanna dance" from Bobby Freeman and the evergreen "Rockin' Robin" from Bobby Day. And from hard man Jack Scott we get not one but two tracks, "Geraldine" as well as the always listenable, "Leroy".
- we get several all-time instrumental classics in "Rumble", "Rebel Rouser" (though not the right cut according to AJ) and "Tequila" plus a second track from the Champs which is less interesting. Yes, I know "Topsy" is present as well but it's never really done it for me.
- there's the superb "Endless Sleep" - "Nightmare with reverb guitar" as Dave Marsh terms it.
- from Jimmy Clanton, "the swamp pop R&B teenage idol" as Wikipedia terms him, we get "Just a Dream" which has an existence in that hinterland between swamp pop and teen mush. There's a nice video on YouTube of the slightly aged lad singing it live and, yup, it still works.
- one of Johnny Cash's rare poppy tracks, the "Ballad of a Teenage Queen" which I've always loved.
- far less doowop than the `57 equivalent and some of it's white. Not white are the Monotones with "(I wonder, wonder, who, who wrote the) Book of Love". The white Aquatones with female lead and the rather nice "You" with what sounds like the Atlantic session team backing . Dion and the Belmonts first single and first hit, "I wonder why". Plus what appears to be the first appearance of the Drifters in this series. Incidentally for anyone who doesn't know, the Rinky Dinks" was/were actually Bobby Darin; he was the guy who was singing on "Early in the Morning" and the Rinky Dinks version actually did better than the Holly cut in the US charts.
- we get a couple of novelties this time in the shape of "Witch Doctor" and "Dinner with Drac". Not really my scene but I'm sure there are cult followers (particularly for the second).
- the two really obscure ones (to me anyway) this time were "Only Teenagers allowed" from Jackie Walker which turned out to be rockabilly-ish, and "Creepin', crawlin', cryin'" from the marvellously named, Billie and Lillie. Not sure what to make of the latter but B & L are a male / female black pairing.
- some teen idol stuff has crept in and Pat Boone is back , oh, and Nick Todd was Pat Boone`s younger brother - moving on ...
- only a few signs of R&B - Jimmy Cracklin's "The Walk" and good old Ruth Brown's great "This little girl's gone rockin'" with some near rockabilly guitar.
- 1958 also saw the first discs from the Coasters and Phil Spector (in Teddy Bear guise).
- I've saved some of the best ones till the end, a lovely chunk of proto country soul "What am I living for" which was to be the last record from Chuck Willis. Plus "For Your Precious Love" from Jerry Butler - more soul but with a stronger dosage of gospel. And I've nearly forgotten that lovely Clyde McPhatter track.
A very good and varied set just not quite as mindblowing as the `57 offering. I said that.